Portable Air Conditioners and How To Buy One

As we reported over the holiday weekend, the heat of summer came back with a bit of a vengeance and looks likely to stay for some time.

Here in New York, central air conditioning is rarer than in other parts of the country, and most people hit a point where they give in and buy a new unit. Often, this occurs on the hottest day yet out of a sheer sense of desperation. Chances are, if you haven’t installed an older unit yet and one isn’t waiting in the garage for you, shopping for a portable air conditioner will crop up on your summer agenda.

It also happens to be one of the areas where most shoppers blank at the store. Unlike steaks or sunblock, summer shopping for a portable air conditioner can be confusing and seemingly without measurable parameters. Pretty much all you can physically see at the store is that the unit is powerful enough to make the streamers dance- but it’s impossible to tell how effectively noisy a portable air conditioner is, or the real test- will it make your sweltering bedroom feel like an ice chest?

CBS offers a few tips to ensure your new portable air conditioner will keep you cool and sane this summer. Like:

Check the BTUs: This is the single most important indicator of an AC unit’s juice:

Mike Rogers, vice president of GreenHomes America, says, “Taking a bigger is better approach to air conditioner shopping is a common mistake.” In order to sufficiently cool a room, your air conditioner has to be strong enough to handle the area. If you buy one that’s too strong, you could be wasting money. If you buy one that is too weak, then you won’t be cooling efficiently.

Thermostats may seem like an indulgence, but they’re worth it: The ability to monitor a room’s temperature will come in handy:

“Look for units that allow you to program specific settings for different times of the day or night,” advises Rogers. “This will allow you to conserve electricity and fine-tune comfort levels in your home.

Keep an eye out for those yellow Energy Star tags: Again, they’ll save you money on electricity bills in the long run.

What’s your breaking point with summer heat? Do you leave the AC going all day or spare the expense for nighttime or daytime only?